“Second Chances”: An Étoile Original by Erica Rucker

You are given a second chance. You can recreate any moment of your life, what would it be? Maybe it’s a marriage to someone else. Running naked through your high school cafeteria. Perhaps, instead, a new job or selling painted seashells on the beach. Think hard, tonight is your chance to take a minute for yourself imagining what could happen if you were given just one more chance.


I would write all the novels that live in my head, take the offer to live in New Zealand for a year, spread myself thin over pages of words and wine in Paris, kiss more boys and definitely make more of them cry.

As we grow, the possibilities of life may seem endless and yet, in the autumn of life, we find ourselves—slightly dimmer versions of the dewy-skinned novices we used to be—languishing over the possibilities that we missed. We could certainly still run naked through our high school cafeteria but the consequences and proportions have changed.

To be honest, it isn’t that our chances have left us but they move out of view. What happens?

Those years of carefree passion, freedom and excess don’t seem to last for long and when we’ve offered them to a life that we think is adulthood —“the growing up”—we find ourselves wistfully looking back.

It’s here we meet the Widow Hanna Glawari. She’s got a second chance. Sort of. She’s got a second chance to remake her romantic life, but because it’s 1905 and women’s choices were few, we know that Hanna’s money, the result of her widowhood, is the center of much politicking and will be controlled by her next husband. Gasp.

In the tarot, the widow card (or at least the most prominent widow card) is represented by the Queen of Swords. A woman who has known life and yet is open for something new, a new position, new love, maybe new joy. She isn’t without her barbs and she holds her sword firmly in front of her heart. She is protective, letting no one close until she is sure of what is true and yet often has an outstretched hand symbolizing her openness. This is Hanna.

Recognizing that time has passed and that youth is fleeting or disappeared is strange ground. So much never changes. You feel like your young self at heart, but as you stare into the face of an older you with the wrinkles creeping around your eyes, gray hair frosting your temples, and the strange ache that happened after you waved too vigorously to your children as they boarded the school bus, you realize that we all stand on this precipice that if we’re lucky is also a rite of passage. What will Hanna do? What will we do as we look for our second chances?

Here’s my hope. If you can reclaim one thing from your youth, do it. Not because you’re holding on to the past but because that thing helps you remember that you are still vital, still here.

We give up so much for life, family, and this idea we’ve called adulthood but we do have a second chance to take something back. Don’t surrender to an idea, make or remake your own. Work less. Play more. Live as you wish, even if it’s just for the time we share watching this show.